Friday, August 25, 2017

1) West Papuans swimming for freedom

1) West Papuans swimming for freedom
Aug 25, 2017

A crucial message for the UN is being delivered across Lake Geneva in a most unusual way, writes Danny Chivers.

West Papuan campaigner Yanto Awerkion, who was arrested in June this year for gathering signatures on a petition. Image from Benny Wenda
Could you swim for 30 hours? Right now, a six-person swimming team is preparing to do exactly that, relay-style, across the 69 kilometres of Lake Geneva. On Monday 28 August, they will set off across the water, carrying a message from more than 160,000 people to the UN’s headquarters on the far shore.
The swim is supported by the Free West Papua campaign, and aims to raise the profile of the Indigenous West Papuan people’s ongoing struggle against Indonesian occupation. The international petition that the swimmers are delivering – which can still be signed online – calls on the UN to take action to end human rights abuses in West Papua and give the people of that region the vote for self-determination that they were denied in 1969.
This petition shows the growing level of international support for the cause of West Papuan freedom, leading the Jakarta Post to conclude that the ‘campaign for an independent Papua has been relentless and has made significant gains in past years’. To understand the significance of this, just look at how the Indonesian government has responded: by banning the petition across the whole of the country. Anyone signing the petition in Indonesia – and especially in West Papua – risks state violence or arrest.
Yanto Awerkion, of the West Papua independence group the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), was arrested on 23 June by Indonesian security services during a rally and prayer session promoting the petition. He remains behind bars, but this hasn’t stopped him from releasing a video online about his experiences. Despite the risks, thousands of West Papuans have been signing the petition.

Related: Find out more in our magazine special on West Papua’s struggle (available online)

Joel Evans, founder of Swim for West Papua, said, ‘West Papua has been hidden from the public eye for nearly half a century. Hundreds of thousands have died, been tortured, arrested, beaten and imprisoned. Indonesia is trying to cover up a genocide, with the help of its Western allies.
‘We hope this swim can penetrate the shadows and assist the Papuans in their struggle for basic self-determination and liberation. Doing this swim requires us to recognise our shared identity as human beings.’
Benny Wenda, a Papuan tribal leader, spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and refugee with asylum in Oxford, England, said, ‘This swim is a historic moment in our long path to freedom. The swim team are helping to shine a light on one of the world’s longest and most brutal military occupations, and tens of thousands of West Papuans in my homeland are willing them on and signing the petition despite risk of arrest and torture.
The actions of every one person can make a difference, and West Papuans need international solidarity work to help the world hear our cry for freedom.’ 

                                                  Illustration of mining operation in Nabire Regency – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – From 132 mining businesses, only 79 mining business permits (IUP) are declared clean and clear by Directorate General of Minerals Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM).
Director of Mineral Business Development, Directorate General of Minerals of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Bambang Susigit, in Jayapura, Wednesday (August 23), said the administration of 79 mining business which declared clean and clear process is complete and their activities have met the rules.
While other 53 mining business have yet meet the procedures due to delays in delivery of documents and lack of recommendations from local governments.
This is a constraint, with the Mining Licensing Policy Act, based on Law number 23 of 2014 on Regional Government, the authority of district and city has ended and all permits are processed by the province,” he said.
However, he stressed there are several obligations that must be tackle together such as the duty of district and municipality to organize all documents needed.
“It is expected that districts and municipalities can submit complete documents so we can processed the validation,” he said.
Furthermore, he explained from the data in the Ministry of ESDM and based on the inventory data or coaching clinic that has been done, one of the main issues is the existence of unlicensed mining activities in licensed locations.
“This is an obstacle which reduces the prospect of reserves that have been recorded and become a crucial issue, because it affects the environment and society,” he said.
This, he said is an important issue that needs to be discussed to find way to improve community welfare.
Meanwhile, Secretary Assistant for Economic Affairs and People’s Welfare of Papua, Elia Loupatty said that the existence of minerals diversified into remote areas. In some regencies in Papua such as Nabire, Paniai, hundreds of illegal mining (PETI) conduct secondary gold mining activities along Siriwo river.
For that, he said, it required an integrated coordination between regencies and provincial government that involve law enforcement officers.
“This is indispensable, because the existence of PETI causes negative impacts such as loss of local government revenue, environmental damage, mining accidents, unfavorable investor climate, social vulnerability and legal harassment,” Elia said. (*)

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